Houston Astros' mascot Orbit doesn't generally stays in no-income-tax Texas in doing his job, so he doesn't have to worry about jock taxes. (Photo by Kay Bell) What are you doing this Fourth of July weekend? In addition to the traditional cookouts and fireworks, many folks across the United States head out to ballparks. I love the Independence Day break because it means more day baseball. I'm not going to any Major League Baseball (MLB) games in person this year, but you can be sure that I'll be watching them on television, starting this afternoon. MLB got a late start... Read more →


Photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA Dealing with the normal ups and, too frequently of late, downs of the stock market is enough of a worry. But things can quickly go even further downhill when crooks use fake investments to defraud victims. Not surprisingly, those criminals often get greedier and try to cheat Uncle Sam, too. Such overreach, however, didn't work out well for one California man. Robert Louis Cirillo of Chino Hills pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday, June 28, to charges of defrauding investors of $3.2 million, as well as scamming an elderly man of hundreds of thousands of... Read more →


Panoramic view of Los Angeles, California (Photo by Anthony Brown) There's been a boom this year in the price of houses. Now some Californians are hoping that the money sellers are making also can help the homeless. Los Angeles voters will decide in November on a higher tax rate on sales of high-value homes. The proposed 4 percent tax on the sale of homes valued $5 to $10 million and 5.5 percent on homes valued at more than $10 million would go toward affordable housing and homelessness prevention efforts. In addition to applying to residential sales, commercial property sellers would... Read more →


18 states are holding sales tax holidays this summer, most focusing on back-to-school shopping. But some states are offering tax savings on other items and have multiple events planned, led by Florida with 9 tax holidays on the way for a wide variety of shoppers. Many school supplies, like these at my local grocery store, will be sales-tax-free in Texas later this summer. (Photo by Kay Bell) Florida's official nickname is the Sunshine State, but this year it qualifies for another title. It's king of the state sales tax holiday season. Florida, along with 17 other states, is offering the... Read more →


Photo by Andrea Piacquadio I'm later than usual posting today because the hubby and I finally cleaned a room that we've ignored for way too long. That meant it took longer than if we'd just dusted a bit more regularly. That's why I'm thinking of hiring a cleaning person. OK, I probably won't. I do think about it every time we do some major cleaning job, since I find housekeeping a total drag. Just ask the hubby. But I'm not really one for people I don't really know being in my house. Plus, if we do hire cleaning help, we... Read more →


The IRS is getting a bit more from this in the House Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2023 proposal. (Photo by Karolina Grabowska) The tax world, both professionals and regular Jane and Jim Taxpayers, continue to criticize how the Internal Revenue Service does, or doesn't do, its job. Yes, we're looking at lacking telephone assistance and the millions of still unprocessed tax returns. The IRS generally responds by noting the challenges it faces, primarily budgetary. The lack of adequate funding, say agency officials, leads to other problems, notably staffing shortages. And yes, that's complicated how the IRS handles telephone assistance duties... Read more →


With inflation at historic levels, U.S. families are re-examining their budgets. Uncle Sam recently did the same with his money, or rather the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) did. What this federal agency within the government's legislative branch found was surprising. The word that the CBO actually used was unexplained in connection with the robust growth of tax collections. Unexplained income tax revenue: "Tax collections in both 2020 and 2021 were larger than the currently available data on economic activity would suggest," according to the CBO report "The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2022 to 2032" issued on May 24. "That unexplained... Read more →


Sen. Ron Wyden chairing a recent Senate Finance Committee hearing. (SFC YouTube video screenshot) President Joe Biden's three-month gas tax holiday seems to be sputtering, so some are turning their attention to another energy approach. They want to impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies. "Exxon made more money than God this year," Biden said in a June 10 address before Port of Los Angeles dockworkers and union representatives, but they are not using those profits to drill more. Biden followed that appearance with a letter to top oil executives urging they boost the supply of gasoline, diesel and... Read more →


A constant and continual message from the Internal Revenue Service is that more of us should electronically file our returns. But, says the National Taxpayer Advocate, the agency isn't making e-filing easy enough. The Internal Revenue Service IRS offers more electronic amended filings, just day after Taxpayer Advocate says agency's e-filing options are lacking Among the many issues National Taxpayer Advocate Erin M. Collins cited in her latest report to Congress is limited e-filing options, for both annual returns and amended ones, The IRS answered that charge at least a little today, announcing that it has expanded e-filing options for... Read more →


Gasoline prices continue to drop a bit in suburban Austin, Texas. (Photo by Kay Bell) President Joe Biden today asked Congress to suspend federal fuel taxes for three months. He's also urging states to suspend their own gas taxes or provide similar relief. The White House's time frame, outlined in a fact sheet, calls for the 18.4 cents per gallon (cpg) and 24.4 cpg non-collection period to start in July and run through September. In announcing temporary excise tax holiday proposal, Biden said it was designed to help motorists during the busy summer travel season. House and Senate gas tax... Read more →


Slow and steady is finally paying off for the Internal Revenue Service and taxpayers who've been waiting for their returns to be processed and associated refunds issued. The IRS announced today (June 21) that by the end of this week, it should be finished with original 1040 forms filed in 2021. That will take care of the remaining 8 million tax returns that were filed last year, but which had stacked up behind earlier COVID created office closure protocols. More importantly to individual taxpayers awaiting refunds, that long-awaited money should soon be in their hands. At it will include some... Read more →


Nowadays, you might have to empty your wallet to fill up your car's tank. However, federal gas tax relief or other help might be available as soon as this week. (Photo by Jen R via Flickr CC) On my way to an appointment today, I passed two gas stations. Both advertised regular at $4.69 a gallon. Yes, my area of Austin, Texas, has escaped (so far) the $5 per gallon average that recently was recorded across the United States. Nationally, the per gallon price for regular has since dropped to $4.981. Yay? And yes, I stopped at one station and... Read more →


Juneteenth is officially on the day that gives it its contraction name, June 19th. But since that was on Sunday, federal offices, the stock market, and some states observance Juneteenth on Monday, June 20. It's the second year of Juneteenth being celebrated as a federal holiday. Since today is Sunday, federal offices will observe it on Monday, June 20. As a native Texan, I was aware of the date. It's was the day in 1865 when recalcitrant (insert your own R word if you wish) early Lone Star Staters were forced to acknowledge — and let enslaved Texans know —... Read more →


This is how many investors felt after last week's stock market dive. (Photo by Angie) The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended last week below 30,000 for the first time since January 2021. Will it bounce back? Probably. Will that happen soon? Probably not, at least not at the levels the market reached before concerns about historic inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, U.S. corporate earnings, and the Federal Reserve's actions consumed investors. I'm not a financial adviser, but I've been an individual investor long enough to know that if you can afford it, hang in there. The proverbial stock roller... Read more →


June 14, 2022, at 6:45 a.m. That's the precise point from which the Internal Revenue Service will never be the same. Darren Guillot, IRS Deputy Commissioner of Small Business/Self Employed Collection & Operations Support, offered that assessment today in announcing the agency's expansion of artificial intelligence voice bots. That date and time was when the agency flipped the switch on so-called authenticated voice bots. This new artificial intelligence system can complete more elaborate tax paying tasks for taxpayers. More importantly, it allows taxpayers using the bots to avoid the hold times they would have faced if they called an IRS... Read more →


A group working to repeal Washington state's recently enacted capital gains tax has abandoned its effort. It's not that the anti-tax group has changed its collective mind. It's still firmly against the tax. Rather, it has decided to rely on the courts to continue to rule that the levy is unconstitutional. Income tax issues: Washington, which is one of the nine states without an income tax, enacted a capital gains tax in 2021. That, said opponents, is an income tax, which is against the state's constitution. It took the matter to Evergreen State voters in a nonbinding ballot initiative last... Read more →


If you added cryptocurrency to your investment mix, things have not been as fun as they were when the digital asset first burst upon the scene. Sure, markets go up and down all the time. But crypto has, for the most part, crashed, if not totally burned. Crypto's volatility and unproven long-term track record is why many advisers have warned against putting it, or putting just a little, into portfolios. Some crypto fans, however, are willing and eager to own it. In fact, they want to go all in and add it to their retirement savings. That retirement plan possibility,... Read more →


General Motors offered a sneak peek this week of the 2024 electric Chevrolet Blazer, due to be fully revealed next month. The above photo of the family-sized, SS performance Blazer EV model, expected to go on sale in spring 2023 starting at around $40,000, was tweeted by GM CEO Mary Barra. Regardless of what you think of Elon Musk, he's made Tesla the electric vehicle (EV). Even if you can't afford one, whenever someone says EV, it's the first vehicle most of us envision. Meanwhile, the other automakers are working to get some of the attention and, of course, customers.... Read more →


The Internal Revenue Service's Whistleblower Office marked its 15th anniversary in fiscal year 2021 by making 179 awards to whistleblowers totaling more than $36 million. "Whistleblower claim numbers assigned in FY 2021 grew by 55% year over year, the second highest level of new claim numbers in the history of the program and claim closures also increased by 13%," wrote John Hinman, director of the IRS Whistleblower Office, in the introduction to the office's 2021 Annual Report to Congress, released on June 10. Those tips led to the IRS collecting in fiscal 2021 more than $245 million, which includes almost... Read more →


You thought you'd get a break from taxes when summer arrived, didn't you? Sorry. June, the first month of summer, also includes tax deadlines for some taxpayers. If you're a U.S. taxpayer who is living and working abroad, including members of the Armed Forces posted overseas, June 15 is your Tax Day. You must file your 2021 tax return by then. June 15 also is the due date for the second estimated tax payment of 2022. This applies to folks who make money that isn't subject to withholding tax. And some folks in Puerto Rico who suffered through major flooding... Read more →